The History and Development of Shoto Budo - page 2



Early Origins - Bodhidharma

Whilst Shoto Budo has a clear lineage through Gichin Funakoshi (O'Sensei) and Mitsusuke Harada, the earliest form of the art of Karate Do is generally attributed to the teachings of Bodhidharma (or Daruma in Japanese), the founder of Zen Buddhism, who is said to have brought the art from India to China in the early part of the 5th Century BCE.

The legend says that Bodhidharma taught Buddhism at the Shaolin Monastery and found the monks to be in such a poor state of health that he devised exercises to enable them to withstand the rigors of Zen. The monastery grew in reputation as a result of the fighting skill and martial spirit of its monks (it is said that the monks also applied their knowledge of vulnerable points gained from their knowledge of acupuncture). Bodhidharma is therefore considered to have laid the foundations from which all modern martial arts developed and indeed, through time, Karate Do became popularised and spread to the Okinawan Islands located on the main trade routes between China and Japan.

King Sho Shin (1477-1526) banned weapons in Okinawa in 1507 which is historically significant as it explains the upsurge in development of unarmed self-defence. An emphasis on hand and arm techniques developed according to local conditions and daily activities and, particularly in agricultural areas where the workers had strong arms and upper bodies, arm and hand movements were more prevalent. In the North where horses were commonly used, the men's legs were strong and so they developed techniques especially in jumping and kicking requiring strong leg muscles. Also the peasants developed a way to use agricultural and domestic implements as weapons to protect themselves from bandits and criminals.

The Okinawans continued to practice fighting without weapons (te), and in time, the term "te" was prefixed by the name of the town in which it was practiced such as Shuri-te, Tomari-te, and Naha-te which developed into separate but related 'styles' which collectively were known as Okinawa-te that became kara-te. Gradually, karate was divided into two main groups: Shorin-ryu which developed around Shuri and Tomari and Shorei-ryu which came from the Naha area.

Modern Origins - Gichin Funakoshi

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